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On filibuster, White House official says Biden supports ‘changing the Senate rules to ensure it can work again’ – follow all the latest.
Fauci accuses Paul of attempting to politically benefit from the pandemic
Dr Anthony Fauci, the president’s chief medical adviser, once again clashed with Republican Senator Rand Paul today, as members of the White House pandemic response team testified before the Senate committee on health, education, labor and pensions.
During his questioning, Paul accused Fauci of using government resources to attack other health experts who disagreed with him on coronavirus-related policies.
“In usual fashion, you are distorting everything about me,” Fauci told Paul. “You keep coming back to personal attacks on me that have absolutely no relevance to reality.”
Fauci argued that Paul’s attacks had distracted from the work necessary to get the pandemic under control, while also endangering him and his family.
“That kindles the crazies out there,” Fauci said. “I have threats upon my life, harassment of my family and my children with obscene phone calls because people are lying about me.”
Fauci also noted that Paul has fundraised off calls for his resignation, encouraging supporters to donate to his campaign if they believe the expert should be fired.
“Go to Rand Paul website and you see ‘Fire Dr. Fauci’ with a little box that says contribute here,” Fauci said. “So you are making a catastrophic epidemic for your political gain.”
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell warned that Republicans would retaliate against Democrats if they move forward with amending the filibuster to pass voting rights bills.
“Fifty Republican senators, the largest possible minority, have been sent here to represent the many millions of Americans whom Leader Schumer wants so badly to leave behind,” McConnell said in a floor speech moments ago.
“So if my colleague tries to break the Senate to silence those millions of Americans, we will make their voices heard in this chamber in ways that are more inconvenient for the majority and this White House than what anybody has seen in living memory.”
Republicans could theoretically throw up more procedural roadblocks to delay the confirmation of Joe Biden’s nominees and block the passage of routine bills.
“What would a post-nuclear Senate look like? I assure you it would not be more efficient or more productive,” McConnell said. “I personally guarantee it.”
The Republican who memorably resisted Donald Trump’s attempt to overturn his election defeat in Georgia has said he will run for re-election on a platform of “integrity and truth”, against an opponent who as a churchman “should know better” than to advance the former president’s lies.
Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, became a household name after he turned down Trump’s demand that he “find 11,780 votes” in order to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the southern state. It was the first victory by a Democrat in a presidential race in Georgia since 1992.
The call is among subjects of an investigation by the district attorney of Fulton county into whether Trump and others committed crimes in their push to overturn election results in the state.
On Monday, Fani Willis told the Associated Press she expected to make a decision in the case in the first half of this year.
“We’re going to just get the facts, get the law, be very methodical, very patient and, in some extent, unemotional about this quest for justice,” she said.
Another reporter asked Joe Biden whether he was insulted that Georgia gubernatorial candidate and voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams will not be attending his speech in Atlanta.
“I spoke to Stacey this morning. We have a great relationship,” Biden said, adding that their teams got their scheduling “mixed up”. “We’re all on the same page.”
A number of influential political activists in Georgia are refusing to attend Biden’s speech because they say the event is a “waste of time” when it appears Democrats do not have the votes in the Senate to pass a voting rights bill.
Jewel Wicker has more details on that dust-up:
‘History is going to judge us,’ Biden says ahead of voting rights speech
Joe Biden has just left the White House to start the trip to Atlanta, Georgia, where he will deliver an afternoon speech on the need to pass national voting rights legislation.
As he left the White House, a reporter asked Biden what he is risking politically by making the speech when it remains very unclear whether the evenly divided Senate can pass a voting rights bill.
“I risk not saying what I believe. That’s what I risk. This is one of those defining moments, it really is,” Biden said.
“People are going to be judged — where were they before and where were they after the vote. History is going to judge us. It’s that consequential. And so the risk is making sure people understand just how important this is.”
As of now, it appears that Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer does not have the votes necessary to amend the filibuster and allow voting rights bills to advance. Schumer has set a deadline of 17 January, Martin Luther King Day, to vote on the matter.
In his Atlanta speech, Biden is expected to say, “The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice? I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch.”
Before traveling to Atlanta to address voting rights, Joe Biden congratulated the University of Georgia Bulldogs for their victory in last night’s national college football championship game.
“Congratulations @GeorgiaFootball on your national championship! Your skill, grit, and determination show us what is possible – and how to win your school’s first title in 41 years. I’m proud of you, Bulldogs,” the president said on Twitter.
The Bulldogs scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to defeat the Alabama Crimson Tide 33 to 18.
Manchin still wants Republican support for filibuster reform
Senator Joe Manchin reiterated that he wants bipartisan support for any changes made to the filibuster, which is extremely unlikely to happen given Republicans’ vehement opposition to Democrats’ proposals.
“We need some good rule changes to make the place work better, but getting rid of the filibuster doesn’t make it work better,” Manchin told reporters on Capitol Hill moments ago.
Because the Senate is evenly divided between the two parties, majority leader Chuck Schumer needs the support of all 50 Democratic senators to get rule changes approved.
Many Democrats have called for amending the filibuster with a simple majority, but Manchin once again made clear that he wants the vote to occur under regular order, which would require a two-thirds supermajority for passage.
“We need some good rules changes, and we can do that together,” Manchin said.
“But you change the rules with two-thirds of the people that are present, so it’s Democrats and Republicans changing the rules to make the place work better. Getting rid of the filibuster does not make it work better.”
Manchin’s comments come hours before Joe Biden is set to address the need for filibuster reform to pass voting rights bills in a speech in Atlanta, Georgia.
Echoing a number of other civil rights leaders, the president of the NAACP said Joe Biden’s speech on voting rights today needs to translate into action in Congress.
“There is nothing more urgent than securing the foundations of our democracy,” NAACP president Derrick Johnson said in a statement ahead of Biden’s trip to Atlanta.
“This administration and this Congress must use all the tools at their disposal to get voting rights across the finish line. We need to see outcomes.”
Of course, it remains unclear whether Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer can convince all 50 members of his caucus to support changing the filibuster, which would allow voting rights bills to advance.
Senate Republicans have repeatedly used the filibuster to block the passage of the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
The attorney general of New York state is acting unconstitutionally and in an un-American way in investigating the Trump Organization, Eric Trump has insisted, claiming a civil inquiry into his father’s financial and tax affairs is politically motivated.
“This is what you would expect from Russia,” Trump told Fox News on Monday. “This is what you would expect from Venezuela. This is third-rate stuff.”
The investigation run by Letitia James is looking into questions including whether the Trump Organization altered property valuations for tax purposes. A separate, criminal investigation in Manhattan is covering similar ground.
Such alleged behavior has been widely reported. In 2016, as Donald Trump ran for the White House, the Guardian reported on a golf club outside New York City. The headline: How Trump’s $50m golf club became $1.4m when it came time to pay tax. Trump denies wrongdoing.
Eric Trump initially refused to comply with the James investigation but was taken to court then questioned in 2020. James has issued subpoenas to Donald Trump Jr and Ivanka Trump. They have refused to comply.
The family has sued, alleging the investigation is politically motivated – a delaying tactic the New York Times said “Mr Trump has deployed in the past when faced with scrutiny by law enforcement and others”.
As the Times put it, “there is no constitutional protection against a prosecutor harboring a political bias”. Experts believe the Trump suit will not succeed.
Eric Trump’s remark about Russia raised eyebrows. He is reported to have told a golf writer, in 2014, that the Trump Organization did not “rely on American banks” because it had “all the funding we need out of Russia”. He denies the remark.
Joe Biden will meet with Martin Luther King III, the son of the celebrated civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and his wife, Arndrea Waters King, before delivering his speech in Atlanta.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to meet with the President to express our deep concerns for the state of our democracy, and convey that his visit cannot be a mere formality. We see his speech as a critical first step in a series of actions to move voting rights legislation forward,” King said in a statement.
“We also support the Georgia groups who have decided not to attend the President’s speech today — they’re frustrated after a year of inaction and we are too. We’re in communication with them and stand in solidarity to ensure voting rights get done.”
While in Atlanta, Biden will lay a wreath at the crypt of Dr King and visit the church where he was once a pastor.
King noted in his statement, “We are hopeful that after tomorrow’s trip to our home state, the President will honor my father’s legacy by traveling back to Washington and using every political chip he has to ensure the filibuster doesn’t obstruct the right to vote for Black and Brown Americans.”
A coalition of influential political activists in Georgia that boosted turnout in a state crucial to Joe Biden’s victory in 2020 is refusing to attend the visit planned on Tuesday by the US president and Kamala Harris to speak on voting rights.
The group had warned the president and vice-president that they needed to announce a specific plan to get national voting rights legislation passed or risk their high-profile trip to Atlanta being dismissed as “a waste of time”.
On Monday evening, the coalition of activist groups – Black Voters Matter, Galeo Impact Fund, New Georgia Project Action Fund, Asian American Advocacy Fund, Atlanta-North Georgia Labor Council – along with James Woodall, the Georgia NAACP president, announced that “we will not be attending” when Biden and Harris speak.
“Instead of giving a speech tomorrow, the US Senate should be voting tomorrow. What we need now, rather than a visit from the president, vice-president and legislators is for the White House and Senate to remain in DC and act immediately to pass federal legislation to protect our freedom to vote,” the groups said in joint statement.
Biden to travel to Georgia to demand action on voting rights
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Joe Biden will travel to Atlanta, Georgia, today to call on Congress to immediately pass national voting rights legislation, which has stalled in the Senate due to Republican filibustering.
“The next few days, when these bills come to a vote, will mark a turning point in this nation. Will we choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice?” Biden is expected to say.
“I know where I stand. I will not yield. I will not flinch. I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”
Of course, the key question is whether Democrats will be able to amend the filibuster to lower the 60-vote threshold needed to pass voting rights bills.
As of now, it remains unclear whether centrists Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema would support changes to the filibuster, and majority leader Chuck Schumer needs all 50 Democratic senators on board in order to move forward.
Regarding what Biden will say on the filibuster, a White House official said, “After the GOP’s support for state attempts to undermine the rule of law based on simple majority votes around the country, he supports – as an institutionalist – changing the Senate rules to ensure it can work again and be restored and this basic right is defended.”
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Source: Thanks msn.com